Writing – Photos – Travel – Crafts

I know the Internet is all in a tizzy about Miley Cyrus at the VMAs. Personally, I don’t care, other than the fact it MAY drive traffic. Besides, my dog Lemmy is the best twerker I know. He does it when he’s excited, and well, he’s excited a lot. So first, I made this video.

And then, Morgan Freeman went and read the definition of Twerking on TV. So you know this had to happen.

I love the Internet.

Nature Valley (ahem, General Mills) has been desperately trying to get people addicted to these granola thins. I know because I had tons of coupons for them that have been accumulating almost every week. They were finally cheap enough at Safeway that I decided I would pick some up.

They are regularly $3.99 and on sale for $2.99. If you bought four you saved an extra $1 per box, plus I had 4 $.75 coupon, which Safeway doubled all four of, saving me another $2. Total I paid $.74 cents a box.

Now the real question: was it worth it?

I was kind of excited that they were only 80 calories each, of course, when I opened the box I found out why: they’re tiny. We’re talking almost bite size. In other words, you’re looking at 240 calories by the time you accidentally eat four.

As far as taste goes, they’re pretty yummy. The chocolate masks the fact that granola is allegedly healthy pretty well, but I don’t see myself getting addicted enough to ever pay full price for these things. Next time, General Mills should just package crack, it would be a lot more effective than coupons.

 

There is some concern at that I am just “hoarding” at this point, but you say hoarding, I say stocking up. The truth is, I am buying things for the game of couponing, but I make it a point to ask myself with every purchase: is this something I will actually use. One thing I’ve noticed through my increased consumerism is that there are a lot of products out there that you don’t really need and can easily live without, but they sure are nice to have. My latest Target trip last week included some of them, such as the bathroom wipes, which make it 100x easier to keep the bathroom clean. So there.

I paid $10, used $10 in coupons  and got:

Ortega Taco Shells (On sale $1.50- $1 mfg coupon = Paid $.50)

Old El Paso Taco Seasoning (Reg price $.69- $.50 coupon = Paid $.19)

Scrubbing Bubbles bathroom wipes (On sale $2.50 – $.55 coupon = Paid $1.95)

Bengay (Reg price $4.89 – $5 coupon = MADE $.11)

Presidente Feta (On sale $3.50 – $1.25 coupon = Paid $2.25)

Cascade dishwasher detergent sample pack (Reg price $1.09 – $1 coupon = paid $.09)

2 Temptations cat treats (On sale $1.50 – $1/2 coupon = Paid $1 each)

5 Campbells Soups (On sale $1 – $1/5 coupon = Paid $.80 each)

The internets are telling me those Cascade sample packs are under $1 each at Walmart, and it’s possible I bought some more coupons off ebay and will go let Walmart pay me to buy them soon.

This is the third cook off we’ve done for Yobeat and the 5th one ever, and this time, I was able to take advantage of my couponing to pull it off cheap! I dipped into my mini stockpile and here’s the break down on the ingredient cost:

Two boxes of Kellogs Cornflakes $3.98 total (plus 2/5′s of a free movie ticket!)

Two cans of green chili peppers $.98 total (2.98, on sale for 2.48- $1/2 coupon -.50 doubler)

Two jars of Classico Pasta sauce $.74 each (Regular price $3.59, On sale $2.49- $1 off in ad coupon – $1/2 mfg coupon – .50 safeway doubler)

Two packages of Tilapia $3.98 (on clearance, 68% savings!)

Total for both meals (not counting ingredients they brought) $9.68!

I’ve severed almost all ties to bloodsucking corporations over the past year. My top three categories of “predatory corporate evils one inevitably has to deal with as an on-the-grid adult” are banks, cable companies  and cellphone providers in that order.

1. Banks. A few months back, I abandoned Bank of America in favor of a local credit union that I’d say is about, oh, 1000000000000000x better. Haven’t looked back. I only wish I made the jump sooner.  I’ll be doing a more in depth blog post about how to save and even earn a lot of money by changing banks soon.

2. Cable Companies. I decided I didn’t need cable and got DSL for $25 a month through Qwest when I moved to Portland a year ago. Not for everybody—especially those who want to watch TV without downloading or streaming  it—but that transition was easy enough. The rate bumped to $50/month after 6 months, but I have had decent service the entire time and have no complaints. Even at the $50 rate, I’m saving about $65 a month ($780/year) over what I used to pay for cable, DVR and internet with Comcast. Also, I have been reading a lot more.

3. CELLPHONES, probably the biggest scam—apart from bi-partisan politics— going in America these days. I have been waiting very impatiently for my cellphone contract with T-Mobile to expire so I could switch providers. In my case, it would have paid for itself to make the switch six months ago, but my cellphone happened to die RIGHT at the cutoff point (why does that always happen???), and I became shackled to the duration of my contract after redeeming my handset insurance. Long story short, they accidentally gave me a $500 credit when they replaced my broken phone, which they somehow only discovered and rectified 3 months later. Maybe that was all part of the evil plan to keep me in their clutches (same with offering me a better rate when I called to cancel my account. Forget it!), but I had to ride it out just in case I got away with it.

Anyway, when all was said and done, my monthly cellphone bill with T-Mobile was around $90.00 every month after fees, taxes and with insurance. This was for an android plan on a network that most often presented as one tiny non 3G bar in my apartment (which is in a major metropolitan area), and constantly dropped my calls to my mom! Not cool.

Over the past few years, a bunch of contract-free “budget” cell providers have popped up all over the place. More recently, they’ve started to get not totally shitty phones, and most now offer unlimited data plans for smartphones. The company in Portland that does this is called Cricket. I just got a phone that runs Android Gingerbread (2.3) on a 600MHz processor and includes a  5.0 MP camera.  I was able to get it this month through a web only special for $129.99 shipped free overnight.  Here it is:

The Huawei Ascend II, made with pride in China.

This is definitely not a top of the line phone, but it’s totally adequate for my needs and your standard smartphone in 2011. I’m not a person who needs to shoot HD video and stream 2 movies at once while also posting on facebook on my phone. And this phone is actually a lot more impressive and zippy than my last phone, so I’m happy with it. The fact that this and similarly available models are leaps and bounds better than what was offered by these pay as you go providers even  a year ago gives me a lot of hope for the future. I think the playing field will eventually become completely leveled, and the big guns may even have to lower their exorbitant prices to keep up with the burner slingers.

If I ever leave my water bottle open in my bag and kill my phone (this has happened), I can replace it for $100—the price should come down in a few months. If a better phone comes out in a year, I can upgrade to that for around the same price. If I decide I hate Cricket and want to switch providers, I can do that any time at no charge. There’s no contract. I love it!

The switch, per month, in summary:

Before
$90.00

Shitty HTC 1st gen android phone on a shitty T-Mobile network that often had no signal in my house with 300 any time mins., unlimited texting and data, handset insurance (I once paid $400 to replace my phone in contract and learned my lesson), misc. taxes, fees and a two year contract.

After
$55.00

Decent android phone on what so far seems to be a way better 3G network at least in the house and city where i spend 95% of my time, unlimited talk, text and data, minor misc. fees and taxes. No contract.

So that’s $35 more a month to spend at the new vegan bar that just opened in the neighborhood or $420/year to blow on organic produce.

I know many could not stand the thought, but losing the iPhone for one of these would yield even more impressive savings as far as I can tell.

Thrift/vintage is somewhat of a cottage industry here in Portland. Options run the gamut between totally free stuff* that people around town leave on the sidewalk in boxes, to showing up at designated times for first dibs on bins full of junk&treasure at Goodwill, to standard thrift department stores, to curated collections of fine vintage threads and furniture that someone else found first (and admittedly had an eye for) and are offering to the public at a sometimes insane markup.

*usually actual trash that should really be thrown out but people around here can’t seem to bear the thought, occasionally something good

Anyway, many useful things can be found through a combination of thrifting options here in Portland, USA America. Buying used is a great way to reduce and recycle stuff that would otherwise be destined for landfills, score one of a kind treasures and support local businesses and non profits. Most importantly, it is also a GREAT way to $ave money, which is what this blog is about.

I went to Value Village and raided a free box last week. Here’s the haul:

Igloo playmate cooler $4.99
Coupon pac coupon wallet (I’m legit) $.99
Levi’s Mid Rise Straight 552 Jeans (like new) $5.99
Awakenings by Oliver Sacks FREE
A Turbulent Voyage: Readings in African American Studies FREE

Total cost: $11.97
Estimated Value: $45

The cooler kept beer and food icy cold (on a camping trip in the middle of nowhere, 30 miles from the nearest store & toilet) all weekend and is a must for value seeking campers and road trippers everywhere. I have somehow reached a point in my life where I occasionally need to wear “nice jeans,” so that explains the Levi’s…Everything else is cool and was under $1 combined.

Value Village now has a super savers club, which apparently opens exclusive manager’s specials to card holders every day. Am joining, will report back.

One of the rules I’ve set for myself is only purchasing one Sunday Paper a week. There are a few reasons for this, but the main one is cost (others being hoarding prevention and my desire not to prolong the life of the print industry.) At $2 a pop, buying a bunch of papers could start to add up and negate the value of the coupons, right? That said, I’m not to proud to take coupons from other people’s newspapers. The only problem is, who subscribes the newspaper anymore? Even my parents have moved to the e-version.

Today when I came into work though, the Sunday paper was still in the bakery and the two coupon circulars were included! As I’ve been told, vegans can’t coupon because their “diets are too weird” and I will let them keep believing that if it gets me more coupons every week. The most exciting thing in this stack is that aforementioned booze rebate coupon which I will happily be cashing in twice.

If you know me well, you probably won’t be surprised about my latest hobby, because I get into random, ridiculous things all the time. I’ll be honest, I saw Extreme Couponing on TLC and said, that looks fun. I’m not doing it to save money or support my five kids on $150 a month, but I’m doing it because it sounded fun, challenging, and like that it came with small victories on a regular basis.

I’m a few weeks in, and the jury is still out if it’s actually going to save me money. In fact, I’ve bought a ton of stuff I wouldn’t have otherwise purchased and even at 60-80% savings that’s still a net loss, but it sure is fun to see that percent savings on the receipt.

I have no intentions to make this a blog of any purpose other than keeping track of (ok bragging about) my savings. If you want to learn about how to Extreme Coupon, you should read one of the many other blogs out there. I check Thekrazycouponlady.com daily (ok 5 times or more) and there are tons out there that actually explain things. This is about me and my mini victories until I get bored with this and find a new hobby.

Oh and the name, well, when you buy two bags of pistachios because you got BOTH for $3.50 and then sit around and eat them, it’s inevitable.